Katy, Texas — On September 29, 2018, the World Bank approved the creation of the Education Quality Reform in Afghanistan project. By December 2023, it could potentially improve the quality and availability of education for girls in Afghanistan, with a particular push toward female education.
Education in Afghanistan
For three decades, only ending in 2001, Afghanistan’s educational system took a hit from sustained conflict by the Taliban. While school attendance increased due to education reforms, Afghanistan is still at a disadvantage compared to neighboring countries. According to World Education News and Reviews, the adult literacy rate in Afghanistan is listed at 38%. In contrast, Pakistan’s rate holds at 56% and Iran’s at 87%.
The Education Law of 2008 requires nine years of education. However, even with slight improvements, Afghanistan still needs significant change. Many teachers lack formal training, and many of the materials used in the classrooms are outdated. Current school buildings cannot hold all the students for the day. Some schools run in shifts, where students can only come for specific chunks of the day. Some lack buildings entirely, meeting in places beholden to the weather. These issues primarily affect the children living in more remote regions and young girls.
Female Education in Afghanistan
When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, they almost completely banned girls from attending school. While the door opened for girls to obtain an education when control by the Taliban ended, the gap in the number of girls who attend schools and boys who attend schools is significant. Approximately 85% of the 3.5 million Afghan children out of school are girls, and only 37% of Afghan girls are literate. The World Bank reports that “at the lower secondary level, boys are 1.5 times more likely to attend middle school compared to girls.”
Over 100,000 girls were out of school in six provinces, and 2,073,659 girls did not attend school in 2016. The conflict sustained by the Taliban had a significant effect on the disadvantages posed to female education in Afghanistan. However, it is also due to the social and traditional beliefs many still hold. For example, marrying as young as 15 years old occurs frequently. Overall, three reasons for girls not attending school include concerns about security, lack of family permission and the schools are inaccessible either due to distance or availability.
The EQRA Project
The EQRA project aims to increase access to education in Afghanistan, particularly for girls, reaching potentially millions of children in 17 different provinces. Over five years, the project should implement four main parts.
The first part focuses on rebuilding the schools, particularly by improving infrastructure, providing grants and supporting community-based education. The second part focuses on improving the quality of education by coaching teachers and developing an up-to-date curriculum. The third part focuses on strengthening the education sector, while the final section focuses on strengthening the Afghan Ministry of Education.
Developments So Far
As of 2021, the EQRA Project approved about 122 Technical Assistance positions and built a school in the Nangahar Province. These actions will help thousands of children secure a place to learn. The World Bank approved a 25 million dollar grant to help build 100 schools and reach the goals set to improve the quality of education for girls in Afghanistan.
With two years left in the EQRA Project’s timeline, there is still much left to improve overall to open more doors for girls in Afghanistan. The EQRA Project’s helping hand in Afghanistan’s progress could significantly impact the next generation.
– Grace Ingles